How to Prepare for your First Highland Dance Competition

Preparing for your First Highland Dance Competition

Your Guide to the World of Competitive Highland Dance

If you’re new to highland dance competitions, or you’re looking for help getting organized for your next competition, this guide is for you!

We’ve covered a lot of competition-related info on our Highland Dancer Blog, and now we’re here to lay out all you need to know ahead of your first time competing! 

Getting Ready to Dance in a Highland Competition

If you’re planning on participating in a highland dance competition, the most important part is making sure you’re ready to dance. 

In addition to going to dance classes and listening to your teacher and all of the given advice, we highly recommend a few things: 

First, be sure to run through your dances in full to the music. Working on specific isolated movements and steps is important for fixing corrections, but we can’t forget how important it is to ensure we can do a dance all the way through. Sometimes it’s the addition of the music, or the transitions between steps that can cause errors. 

On that note, be sure to try your dances to a few different tunes. It’s impossible to predict or control what music will be played at a competition, and it’s never fun to be caught off guard when you get on stage. 

Practicing with music by different artists on the regular allows a dancer to become adaptable to the variances in tempo and melody they will inevitably run into.

Finally, when preparing your dancing, seek out additional instruction as needed. Saorsa Studio dancers of all ages and levels have exclusive access to online booking with any of our dedicated instructors. Many of our competitive students will book a private lesson or two leading up to competition day, to ensure that they get some focused one-on-one time to prepare. 

If you’re a Saorsa Studio dancer looking to book a private lesson, log into the Portal and visit Appointments (if you’re on desktop) or Private Lessons (if you’re on the app). Choose a service and an instructor, view available times, and book what works for you! Contact for more info or assistance in booking.

What to Pack for a Highland Dance Competition

Let’s get it out there right out of the gates: our biggest piece of advice for you is don’t pack the night before a competition!

(Hopefully you’re not reading this while desperately packing the night before a competition). 

The earlier you pack, the more time you’ll have to find things you don’t have, and remember things you’re forgetting. 

When it comes to costumes, our packing strategy is to go top to bottom: start at the top of your head, and work your way down to your toes pulling out all of the components and supplies you need. Here’s how this works for the kilt outfit:

  • Hair: supplies to do your bun, including extra pins and hairspray to have at the competition venue
  • Makeup
  • Dickie with pins, or white blouse if you wear a vest
  • Vest or kilt jacket
  • Sports bra or other undergarments
  • Black underwear/shorts
  • Kilt
  • Pins for your competitor number
  • Kilt socks
  • Garters
  • Ghillies

Hopefully, adopting a packing strategy will help you get to competitions with everything you need! 

More on costumes:

Key Things to Remember for a Highland Dance Competition

In addition to costumes, there’s some other things you need and probably want to bring with you to a competition.

First, remember to bring your competitor registration card!! Your dance card, along with your costumes, is the most important thing you need in order to dance. Keep your card somewhere you won’t lose it. – someone who has lost a few cards and had to pay for a new one xoxo

Next, pack snacks!

Depending on the venue and the type of competition, food could be easier or harder to access. At a Highland Games, there will likely be food vendors around, but the same can’t always be said for other competitions. Many events will have a canteen, but we would still recommend having some food on hand. 

Finally, remember to pack all of the warm up/cool down/additional supplies you need. This could include, but is not limited to:

  • Practice mats
  • Rollers
  • Headphones and music
  • Gatorade or other electrolyte booster
  • Pen for writing in your program
  • Cash (many competitions only accept cash!)
  • Sneakers for warming up
Once you’ve done a few competitions and started to figure out what you want to have with you throughout the day, we recommend making a packing list for yourself

Summary: How to Prepare for Competition

Dancing Preparation

Do full dances with music, try different music, and seek extra class time if you desire. 


Pack more than a day in advance! Remember your dance card! Pack your costumes top to bottom, and create a packing list for yourself. 

More Information on Highland Dance Competitions

For further reading on the world of competitive highland dance, check out these posts from our Highland Dancer Blog!

Happy Competing!

Do you have an unanswered question about highland dance? Reach out to us on Instagram (@saorsastudiofredericton) or contact Kate ( We got you covered!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: